Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

August 13, 2018

The United States Preventative Services Task Force publishes recommendations frequently on various topics that affect Americans. This year they updated the skin cancer prevention information. I find these updates in line with the research and finally loaded with common sense.

"Exposure to UV radiation during childhood and adolescence increases the risk of skin cancer later in life, especially when more severe damage occurs, such as with severe sunburns. Persons with fair skin types (ivory or pale skin, light hair and eye color, freckles, or

those who sunburn easily) are at increased risk of skin cancer. Persons who use tanning beds and those with a history of sunburns or previous skin cancer are also at substantially increased risk of skin cancer. Other factors that further increase risk include an increased number of nevi (moles) and atypical nevi, family history of skin cancer, HIV infection, and history of receiving an organ transplant. Most studies of interventions to increase sun protection behaviors have been limited to persons with fair skin types."

They rightly point out that most skin cancers are initiated during the ages of 0 to 20 years old when we are rapidly growing and at higher risk for DNA damage. They also comment on the fact that these recommendations are based on studies performed on persons of fair skin type.

This clearly does not reflect the reality for someone with dark hair, eyes and skin. Their risk is dramatically less as their ancestral DNA grew up with more intense sun exposure. They need to follow a different path that allows for more sun exposure for vitamin D production.

"Potential harms of interventions promoting sun protection behaviors include skin reactions to sunscreen lotion, vitamin D deficiency, reduced physical activity due to avoiding the outdoors, and a paradoxical increase in sun exposure from a false reassurance of protection from sunscreen use."

I have always been in the camp of Dr. Michael Hollick, a vitamin D expert. We are not getting enough sun exposure based on the fear of skin cancer. It is very clear to me that if you follow the natural plan of life, you will be fine.

1) Do not burn your skin. If you are of Northern European or Northern American decent, you need to be cautious about your sun exposure, i.e. 20 minutes a day without sunscreen and then cover up or add SPF 30+ to exposed skin. If you are ancestrally from closer to the equator, your skin is already evolutionarily ready for the baking that ensues in such areas. DO NOT BURN! That is the key to preventing DNA damage.

2) Get you vitamin D level checked. If it is less than 50 ng/m,you need either more sun or supplemental vitamin D. This is especially critical for mother's to be!

3) All nursing mothers should give their infants 400IU of liquid vitamin D daily.

Like John Denver says - sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy,


Dr. M


USPSTF Guidelines
Dr. Hollick's Website